Wendy Haddock, a physiotherapist from Sanquhar teaches asthmatics the Buteyko Method around Scotland and north west England. To address interest in the Buteyko Method the following article describes the Buteyko Method and why she became a Buteyko practitioner.
I first became involved with Buteyko in January 1997 when I watched a BBC programme, "Front line Scotland" a documentary on Buteyko featuring Alexander Stalmatski and Chris Drake, who introduced Buteyko to the United Kingdom. My interest sprang from my mother's chronic asthma that was progressively deteriorating as she got older.
The results with Buteyko were exceptional and surprised us both. After the course my mother's asthma came under control, reducing and finally eliminating the need for medication allowing her to live a normal life.
The Buteyko Method originated in Russia in the 1950's. Russian doctor, Konstantin Buteyko was working in an acute respiratory ward and noticed that patients closer to normal breathing were less ill than those who had deeper breathing. Professor Buteyko believes there is a causal link between asthma and overbreathing. Hyperventilation is when the respiratory rate is increased beyond the normal 4 to 6 litres of air per minute and may be in the form of mouth or nose breathing when the rate is greater than the normal 12 breaths a minute.
Buteyko Method involves a series of breathing exercises done in a specific manner, great fun for kids. Simple life style changes are suggested and there's education on medication and it's use, especially that of bronchodilators.
The Buteyko stresses that asthmatics need to keep their medication with them at all times decreasing only as the asthma symptoms decrease. Special emphasis is placed on continuing with preventer medication regardless of any reduction of symptoms, and that these should be reduced only with a doctors supervision. This is in line with current allopathic treatment of asthma.
In my experience doctors are only too happy to reduce drugs that can have side effects in the long term, providing their patients condition is improving.
The results of a course are commonly a dramatic reduction in asthma symptoms, and a subsequent reduction in both reliever and preventer medication. With children not only does their condition improve signifecantly but their confidance also improves.
Most physio's (and doctors) are rightly sceptical of any "alternative" health options that have not undergone rigorous trials. Although there is still much to be done the first western article describing the Buteyko Method was published in the December 1998 edition of the Medical Journal of Australia.
(MJA web site address:
This trial on the Buteyko Method in Brisbane showed an average 96% reduction in reliever medication and an average 49% reduction in preventor medication three months after the subjects had learned the Buteyko Method. Subjects also had a dramatic improvement in quality of life and reduced asthma symptoms.
These results are almost always duplicated in buteyko courses. Further trials are underway in New Zealand and Australia, and the largest study to date is now underway in Glasgow where 600 people will be taken through the method and followed up over the next two years. This follows a pilot study done in the year 2000 which I taught myself and showed the significantly good results we have come to expect.
I am a member of the already established Australian Buteyko Institute of Breathing and Health who are very supportive in helping us to achieve high standards in this country. In this way I hope that Buteyko, having a solid base, will go from strength to strength.
About the author:
Article written by Wendy Haddock M.C.S.P.
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